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Thursday, 2 September 1999
Page: 9855


Mrs DRAPER —Today, I would like to take the opportunity in the short time available to me to read into Hansard an anonymous statement by a woman who is in hospital at this moment recovering from another of her many attempts at suicide. I thank my colleague Senator Brian Harradine for giving me this statement to read and for supporting this victim who is one of his constituents. She starts by saying:

It seems everyone else has had their say on the film Lolita , from film producers, actors, politicians, journalists and `free speech' advocates. But the view of the incest survivor has not been sought or voiced.

I have been following the debate over the film, not like the majority who hypothesise from a purely intellectual stance, but from my own personal experience of having had Vladimir Nabokov's novel used as a tool in the sexual abuse I experienced in my childhood.

Lolita has run like a subtext through my life. As a child I read the book and lived a life not unlike hers. My stepfather had me play the role of Lolita to his Humbert—he even asked me to wear the pigtails and the ponytails. This man internalised the language and the philosophies of the writer, referring to me as his `nymphette' and inferring that I was his lover. In my puberty he handed me Nabokov's book with the advice that it would help me to understand the nature of our covert relationship and that I might identify with Lolita. The truth was he identified with the abuser and wanted to transfer his notions to me.

My stepfather's abuse of me involved brainwashing which convinced me that I was somehow to blame and which allowed intercourse to proceed unhindered for six years. Reading the book horrified and depressed me. I now consider it a form of intellectual child pornography.

Now things have come full circle, with Lolita back in the cinemas. For years I had blocked out her memory and gone about my life in a mechanistic fashion. But there is only so long a memory will remain sealed and silent. Soon it will contaminate everything. The novel/film will never cease to affect me because of the way in which it interplayed in my life. Lolita never got to say how it was for her and no-one wanted to know. As a child, she did not have the capacity to assign a meaning and language to what she could not understand.

The book has been described quaintly as a "tender tragic love story." Surely this can't be the same book I read: the book that involves an older man lusting over eight and ten year old little girls, gleeful at the death of Lolita's mother because this gives him unrestricted access to molest her daughter, drugging Lolita in order to have intercourse against her will when she is twelve and then pursuing a sexual relationship with her for the remainder of her childhood.

In the book, Humbert claims that by the age of fourteen, Lolita was letting him have sex with her. One wonders what happened in the intervening years. The coercion and force that would have been employed is conveniently omitted.

Likewise, my stepfather censored my view of the world and his own. I did not even know there was such a thing as what we now refer to as child sexual assault. The only paradigm I could place my experience into was that of the married couples I had seen in the 40's, 50's and 60's movies I was permitted to watch.

(Time expired)